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In looking for a Prophet, they might II. expect him to announce their deliver
ance from the Roman yoke and their aggrandisement - among
- among the nations. But the constant strain of his prophetic office was to preach the gospel to the poor, and administer consolation to the penitent; or if he touched on temporal subjects, it was in a strain not at all in unison with their ambitious aims, since he denounced the destruction of Jerusalem and the total dissolution of the Hebrew state.
In looking for a Priest, they might expect him to appear in the rich and splendid vesture of the sons of Aaron, ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices in the temple. They had little conception that he had a gift to yield of greater efficacy than the blood of all the victims, which were continually offered on the Mosaic altars, that he was come to take away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
In looking for a King, they might expect to find him in a palace and on a throne, surrounded by guards and courtiers; or else in a field, commanding armies in successful warfare, and leading into bondage their oppressors. . But
so far was. our Lord 'from answering SERM. such ambitious hopes, that he came in the garb of a lowly peasant; he wanted the common refuge of the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air ; he had not where to lay his head. And had a kingdom to establish of greater authority than any temporal dominion ; since instead of exacting the homage of the body, it demanded the surrender of the soul; instead of being confined to the Children of Israel, it had all power in heaven and in earth; instead of being limited in time, it would exist to all eternity.
When the Jews thus totally mistook his mission and character, they were by no means prepared to receive his doctríne; and as through prejudice they had misunderstood the writings of the Prophets, so also through prejudice they misunderstood his words. Thus wąs it the character of the people in our Saviour's time, as it had been of their Forefathers in the days of the Prophets, that they saw but did not perceive, they heard but did not understand,
The Disciples beheld him in another II. point of view.
In him they saw a Prophet of a Covenant very different in spirit from that, which Göd had made with the Children of Israel. For instead of those ancient rites and ceremonies, which only served unto an example and shadow of heavenly things, he now put his laws into their minds and wrote them in their hearts : instead of that limited dispens sation, in which a man was satisfied to teach his brother or his neighbour the knowledge of the Lord, he opened his religion to the world, so that all might know him from the least even to the greatest: instead of that rigorous ordinance of the ancient law, which exacted the penalty denounced upon every transgression, he imparted a doctrine of grace and benevolence, which declares to the penitent that God will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their șins and iniquities he will remember no more".
In him they saw a Priest, who was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the hea
Jer, xxxi. 31, &c. Heb. viii. 8, &c.
vens; who, instead of offering daily sa- SERM. crifices as the Priests of the order of II. Aaron, hath once for all offered
himself a sacrifice for the sins of the people, and on the merit of that sacrifice is now entered into the Holy of Holies, even into Heaven itself, where he ever liveth to make intercession for us.
In him they saw a King, who is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, the first and the last, who was and is and is to come, the Almighty; who once was dead, and is alive for evermore, and has the keys of hell and death Y; who, having waged a successful warfare against the Rulers of darkpess, has entered in triumph into the heaven of heavens, and has made this animating promise to all his faithful, subjects, To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me on my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with
my Father on his throne?.
In all these characters was he regarded by the Disciples : and therefore blessed were their eyes, for they saw, and their ears, for they heard.
* Heb. vii. 25, &c. y Rev. i. 8., 18.
We must indeed confess that his sayII. ings were not always clear to them at
the time when they were first delivered. For we sometimes find that after he had spoken, as we might suppose, to their understandings, yet they understood not that saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it nota. Incompetent at once to divest themselves of popular prejudice, they were slow to apprehend his words, and they continued even to his death to doubt at least of the design of his coming and the nature of his kingdom; as appears from a circumstance which occurred on the very eve of his passion, the strife that was among them, who should be the greatest b.
As the eyes of their understanding were yet too weak for the fulness of spiritual light, he judged it prudent to unfold it by a gradual communication, till they became better competent to bear it. But the time was drawing nigh, when he would no longer speak in parables, either to his Disciples or the world, but would plainly shew them' all the counsel of the Father. Accord